On Saturday, Make Faire returns to San Mateo, Calif. This year, organizers expect more than 80,000 people for the all-weekend event, the fourth time it's been in San Mateo.
Attendees will find hall after hall of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, crafts, robots, rockets, remote-control battleships, and steam-powered Victorian houses. They'll also find Cyclecide, the world's most famous bicycle rodeo. This comely creature is one of the troupe's bikes, and sets the tone for what those who ride the bikes will experience.
Maker Faire is the biggest DIY festival in the world, and has been growing steadily since it began in the spring of 2006. Now, there are also Maker Faires in Austin, Texas, and in England.
If you go this weekend, bring a hat and sunscreen, be patient with traffic, and remember to drink lots of water. And watch out for the chariot being pulled by a humanoid robot.
On Friday, Maker Day, the "makers," the people who create the projects on display for the weekend, set up and get a chance to see each others' projects without the massive crowds.
This snail art car, aka "The Golden Mean," sits on the grass at the San Mateo Fairgrounds, the home of the fourth-annual Maker Faire. The snail is part of the ambiance that comes with The Boiler Bar, a for-hire traveling nightclub.
A fixture in the Bay Area alternative arts scene for years, the Doggie Diner heads are also a Maker Faire favorite. Here, the three heads sit on a trailer, awaiting their placement at the 2009 Maker Faire. The heads were originally mounted on large poles outside Doggie Diner restaurants in and around San Francisco.
Another Maker Faire favorite are the Eepy Birds, the duo who have become famous for the coordinated and choreographed fountains they're able to make by mixing Diet Coke and Mentos. This is the stage where they will perform all weekend at Maker Faire.
The unofficial Maker Faire mascot is this robotic giraffe, known as the Rave 'Raff. For Maker Faire 2009, it has been entirely rebuilt by Lindsay Lawlor (pictured) and his team. It now features more interactivity, new LEDs, and an entirely new paint job. It used to be white. Now, it's "pearl sunset orange."
Maker Faire features an alternative vehicles pavilion. On Maker Day, the hall was largely empty, but this Tesla (without a body) was on display. Attendees will be able to inspect the vehicle and see that the electric car doesn't have many of the components people are used to seeing in cars.
Pictured is a 1917 Case traction engine, which was the world's first tractor model. This one is being fully restored--and is 90 percent complete--by a group called Kinetic Steam Works, which has spent two years on the project. The group bought the traction engine from a museum in Yuma, Ariz., that closed down.
At Maker Faire, it's important to keep alert, as you never know what might drive by at high speed. Alertness is crucial both so you don't get run over and so you don't miss some of the incredible projects people have worked on and brought to the fair, like this steampunk buggy.
The Potato Gatling Gun, by Tony DeRose, is "an autofiring multi-barrel version of the popular PVC potato cannon from the book 'Backyard Ballistics.' It is capable of launching six potatoes approximately 400 feet."
Another Maker Faire fixture is the Lifesize Mousetrap. Every year, hundreds of people flock to it to watch a bowling ball make its way (hopefully) through dozens of odd ramps, pulleys, loops and other conveyances. Here, the Mousetrap team tests out how well the ball is moving through the course.
The Eggbot Project, by Bruce Shapiro, is a spherical plotter that employes two software-controlled stepper motors to draw intricate designs on things like eggs, lightbulbs, and other objects with spherical surfaces.
Al Linke's DIY Magic Mirror is a project that uses a spare PC and is designed to respond to "proximity, touch, and on/off sensors." It can respond to inquiries with weather forecasts and stock results and has princess, pirate, and Halloween modes.
A group called Lightning Temple prepares the Interactivation, an interactive musical instrument. Essentially, it will become a musical tesla coil with polyphonic sound geared to sound like it's coming from a speaker rather than the much more video game-like sounds that come from traditional tesla coils.